You Don't Get What You Deserve

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Grace perennially waits for us to accept our destruction and, in that acceptance, to discover the power of the Resurrection and the Life.
— Robert Farrar Capon
Until we acknowledge our sin and guilt, we will never come to discover that it can be forgiven. But when we do, actual forgiveness begins to give rise to an awareness of forgiveness psychologically, spiritually, mentally, inwardly. With that comes an increasing sense that the bondage of guilt has been broken. At last, we are set free. Wonder of wonders, we discover that at the very heart of the gospel is this fact: God has taken our guilt upon Himself in His Son Jesus Christ.
— Sinclair Ferguson

Hosea 9

1 Rejoice not, O Israel!
Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.
You have loved a prostitute's wages
on all threshing floors.
2 Threshing floor and wine vat shall not feed them,
and the new wine shall fail them.
3 They shall not remain in the land of the Lord,
but Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria.

4 They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the Lord,
and their sacrifices shall not please him.
It shall be like mourners' bread to them;
all who eat of it shall be defiled;
for their bread shall be for their hunger only;
it shall not come to the house of the Lord.

5 What will you do on the day of the appointed festival,
and on the day of the feast of the Lord?
6 For behold, they are going away from destruction;
but Egypt shall gather them;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver;
thorns shall be in their tents.

7 The days of punishment have come;
the days of recompense have come;
Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
and great hatred.
8 The prophet is the watchman of Ephraim with my God;
yet a fowler's snare is on all his ways,
and hatred in the house of his God.
9 They have deeply corrupted themselves
as in the days of Gibeah:
he will remember their iniquity;
he will punish their sins.

10 Like grapes in the wilderness,
I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
in its first season,
I saw your fathers.
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
11 Ephraim's glory shall fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception!
12 Even if they bring up children,
I will bereave them till none is left.
Woe to them
when I depart from them!
13 Ephraim, as I have seen, was like a young palm[a] planted in a meadow;
but Ephraim must lead his children out to slaughter.[b]
14 Give them, O Lord—
what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.

15 Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
Because of the wickedness of their deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no more;
all their princes are rebels.

16 Ephraim is stricken;
their root is dried up;
they shall bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will put their beloved children to death.
17 My God will reject them
because they have not listened to him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.

Reap the Whirlwind

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Glimpsed through the lens of a cross, what looks like the end may be only the beginning. The birth pangs of a new pathology, one of mercy—for failed teachers and their flailing students, lonely pastors and their exhausted congregants, addicts and their enablers, Christians and non-Christians, you and me.
— David Zahl

Hosea 8

1 Set the trumpet to your lips!
    One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord,
because they have transgressed my covenant
    and rebelled against my law.
To me they cry,
    “My God, we—Israel—know you.”
Israel has spurned the good;
    the enemy shall pursue him.

They made kings, but not through me.
    They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
    for their own destruction.
I have spurned your calf, O Samaria.
    My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
For it is from Israel;
a craftsman made it;
    it is not God.
The calf of Samaria
    shall be broken to pieces.

For they sow the wind,
    and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads;
    it shall yield no flour;
if it were to yield,
    strangers would devour it.
Israel is swallowed up;
    already they are among the nations
    as a useless vessel.
For they have gone up to Assyria,
    a wild donkey wandering alone;
    Ephraim has hired lovers.
10 Though they hire allies among the nations,
    I will soon gather them up.
And the king and princes shall soon writhe
    because of the tribute.

11 Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
    they have become to him altars for sinning.
12 Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
    they would be regarded as a strange thing.
13 As for my sacrificial offerings,
    they sacrifice meat and eat it,
    but the Lord does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
    and punish their sins;
    they shall return to Egypt.
14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker
    and built palaces,
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
    so I will send a fire upon his cities,
    and it shall devour her strongholds.

Would Redeem

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I remember when I first became a Christian and I saw God everywhere. I heard Him everywhere. His voice yelled at me from every place. And I’ve been spending ever since I became a mature Christian getting back to that place where I hear Him... It’s everywhere. The wisdom of God cries from everything that you see. God uses the metaphors of your life to teach you the profound truths that he’ll apply to your existential reality. Listen for Him.
— Steve Brown

Hosea 6:4-7:16

 4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
    What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
    like the dew that goes early away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
    I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
    and my judgment goes forth as the light.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
    the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

But like Adam they transgressed the covenant;
    there they dealt faithlessly with me.
Gilead is a city of evildoers,
    tracked with blood.
As robbers lie in wait for a man,
    so the priests band together;
they murder on the way to Shechem;
    they commit villainy.
10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
    Ephraim's whoredom is there; Israel is defiled.

11 For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed.

When I restore the fortunes of my people,
when I would heal Israel,
    the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed,
    and the evil deeds of Samaria,
for they deal falsely;
    the thief breaks in,
    and the bandits raid outside.
But they do not consider
    that I remember all their evil.
Now their deeds surround them;
    they are before my face.
By their evil they make the king glad,
    and the princes by their treachery.
They are all adulterers;
    they are like a heated oven
whose baker ceases to stir the fire,
    from the kneading of the dough
    until it is leavened.
On the day of our king, the princes
    became sick with the heat of wine;
    he stretched out his hand with mockers.
For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue;
    all night their anger smolders;
    in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
All of them are hot as an oven,
    and they devour their rulers.
All their kings have fallen,
    and none of them calls upon me.

Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples;
    Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Strangers devour his strength,
    and he knows it not;
gray hairs are sprinkled upon him,
    and he knows it not.
10 The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
    yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
    nor seek him, for all this.

11 Ephraim is like a dove,
    silly and without sense,
    calling to Egypt, going to Assyria.
12 As they go, I will spread over them my net;
    I will bring them down like birds of the heavens;
    I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
13 Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
    Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
    but they speak lies against me.

14 They do not cry to me from the heart,
    but they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
    they rebel against me.
15 Although I trained and strengthened their arms,
    yet they devise evil against me.
16 They return, but not upward;
    they are like a treacherous bow;
their princes shall fall by the sword
    because of the insolence of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.

That He May Heal Us

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God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
— C.S. Lewis

(Please note: this recording does not include the children's sermons given during this service.)

Hosea 5:1-6:3

1 Hear this, O priests!
Pay attention, O house of Israel!
Give ear, O house of the king!
For the judgment is for you;
for you have been a snare at Mizpah
and a net spread upon Tabor.
2 And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter,
but I will discipline all of them.

3 I know Ephraim,
and Israel is not hidden from me;
for now, O Ephraim, you have played the whore;
Israel is defiled.
4 Their deeds do not permit them
to return to their God.
For the spirit of whoredom is within them,
and they know not the Lord.

5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in his guilt;
Judah also shall stumble with them.
6 With their flocks and herds they shall go
to seek the Lord,
but they will not find him;
he has withdrawn from them.
7 They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord;
for they have borne alien children.
Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields.

8 Blow the horn in Gibeah,
the trumpet in Ramah.
Sound the alarm at Beth-aven;
we follow you, O Benjamin!
9 Ephraim shall become a desolation
in the day of punishment;
among the tribes of Israel
I make known what is sure.
10 The princes of Judah have become
like those who move the landmark;
upon them I will pour out
my wrath like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment,
because he was determined to go after filth.
12 But I am like a moth to Ephraim,
and like dry rot to the house of Judah.

13 When Ephraim saw his sickness,
and Judah his wound,
then Ephraim went to Assyria,
and sent to the great king.
But he is not able to cure you
or heal your wound.
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear and go away;
I will carry off, and no one shall rescue.

15 I will return again to my place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
and in their distress earnestly seek me.

1 “Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”

Making a Case

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“Christ plays the priestly role, not only to render the Father favorable and propitious toward us by an eternal law of reconciliation, but also to receive us as his companions in this great office.”
— John Calvin

Hosea 4:1-19

1 Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
2 there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field
and the birds of the heavens,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away.

4 Yet let no one contend,
and let none accuse,
for with you is my contention, O priest.
5 You shall stumble by day;
the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;
and I will destroy your mother.
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

7 The more they increased,
the more they sinned against me;
I will change their glory into shame.
8 They feed on the sin of my people;
they are greedy for their iniquity.
9 And it shall be like people, like priest;
I will punish them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
10 They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
because they have forsaken the Lord
to cherish 11 whoredom, wine, and new wine,
which take away the understanding.
12 My people inquire of a piece of wood,
and their walking staff gives them oracles.
For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray,
and they have left their God to play the whore.
13 They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains
and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar, and terebinth,
because their shade is good.
Therefore your daughters play the whore,
and your brides commit adultery.
14 I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,
nor your brides when they commit adultery;
for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes
and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,
and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.

15 Though you play the whore, O Israel,
let not Judah become guilty.
Enter not into Gilgal,
nor go up to Beth-aven,
and swear not, “As the Lord lives.”
16 Like a stubborn heifer,
Israel is stubborn;
can the Lord now feed them
like a lamb in a broad pasture?

17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone.
18 When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring;
their rulers dearly love shame.
19 A wind has wrapped them in its wings,
and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

Go, Love

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[Our religion] is what we lean on to tell us we’re okay, that our lives matter, another name for all the ladders we spend our days climbing toward a dream of wholeness. It refers to our preferred guilt-management system.... Our religion is that which we rely on not just for meaning or hope but enoughness.
— David Zahl

Hosea 3:1-5

1 And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech[a] of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” 4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

Betrothed Forever

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The power of healing love in marriage is a miniature version of the same power that Jesus has with us. In Christ, God sees us as righteous, holy, and beautiful (2 Corinthians 5:21). The world tells us about our faults, and we know that they are there, but God’s love for us covers our sins and continues despite them.
— Tim Keller

Hosea 2:14-23

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord,
I will answer the heavens,
and they shall answer the earth,
22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and they shall answer Jezreel,
23 and I will sow her for myself in the land.
And I will have mercy on No Mercy,
and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”

Other Lovers

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All idols begin by offering great things for a very small price. All idols then fail, more and more consistently, to deliver on their original promises, while ratcheting up their demands, which originally seemed so reasonable, for worship and sacrifice. In the end they fail completely, even as they make categorical demands. In the memorable phrase of the psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover, idols ask for more and more while giving less and less, until eventually they demand everything and give nothing.
— Andy Crouch

Hosea 2:2-13

2 “Plead with your mother, plead—
    for she is not my wife,
    and I am not her husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
    and her adultery from between her breasts;
lest I strip her naked
    and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
    and make her like a parched land,
    and kill her with thirst.
Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
    because they are children of whoredom.
For their mother has played the whore;
    she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
    who give me my bread and my water,
    my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will hedge up her[a] way with thorns,
    and I will build a wall against her,
    so that she cannot find her paths.
She shall pursue her lovers
    but not overtake them,
and she shall seek them
    but shall not find them.
Then she shall say,
    ‘I will go and return to my first husband,
    for it was better for me then than now.’
And she did not know
    that it was I who gave her
    the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
    which they used for Baal.
Therefore I will take back
    my grain in its time,
    and my wine in its season,
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
    which were to cover her nakedness.
10 Now I will uncover her lewdness
    in the sight of her lovers,
    and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
11 And I will put an end to all her mirth,
    her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths,
    and all her appointed feasts.
12 And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
    of which she said,
‘These are my wages,
    which my lovers have given me.’
I will make them a forest,
    and the beasts of the field shall devour them.
13 And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals
    when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,
    and went after her lovers
    and forgot me, declares the Lord.

Great Shall Be the Day

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The Lord shows mercy, not because we deserve mercy, but because He delights in mercy.
— Thomas Watson

Hosea 1:2-2:1

2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” 3 So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

4 And the Lord said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

8 When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. 9 And the Lordsaid, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

1 Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”

We So Easily Forget

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In short, Israel’s identity (to be a priestly kingdom) declares a mission, and Israel’s mission demands an ethic (to be a holy nation).
— Christopher Wright

Exodus 19:1-11

1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”

When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.